With 24 March 2012 locked in as the date of the next Queensland Parliamentary Election, the ICT industry will be paying extra attention to what the main parties have to say about the future of technology, in a State that is better known for its ICT catastrophes than its successes.
The Liberal-National Party (LNP), under former Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman, has made no secret of its intention to turn the spotlight onto the list of ICT projects that imploded during Labor’s term.
The appointment in April 2011 of a former nurse, Ros Bates, as the Shadow Minister for ICT was a not-so-subtle symbolic attack on the disastrous Health Department payroll systems upgrade, which saw tens of thousands of Bates’ fellow health services professionals overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all.
Bates, who also represents the portfolios of Government Services and the Building Industry for the LNP, says that a focus on project management and improved project governance will characterise the party’s approach to major ICT initiatives.
“It’s blatantly obvious that these failures have resulted from poor project governance compounded by project management practices.
“This bungling Bligh government can't get the basics right. Whenever Labor tries to roll out a new computer system, they don't test it properly and they don't have the support services in place,” said Bates.
“An LNP Government is committed to enforcing professional standards of project management,” she said.
While the LNP has not released a specific ICT policy document to date, Bates dropped very strong hints regarding the ICT agenda that the party would pursue in government whilst addressing an AIIA luncheon in October 2011.
She said that a new government would have to better utilise industry expertise, hinting towards the establishment of an ICT Advisory Panel like that recently put together by the NSW Government.
She added that industry could “take it as read that we will robustly review how government procures ICT goods and services”.
Such a review would almost certainly assess measures designed to boost the amount of government ICT business that goes to Queensland companies.
“There are many successful and dynamic businesses based in Queensland that could supply a much greater share of the State's ICT needs, with local service and response, and the Government's support of them would create multiple layers of benefits with regard to the economy, employment and education of Queenslanders,” she told the luncheon.
As part of a push to nurture innovation within Queensland’s private sector, the LNP intends to set-up partnerships with the State’s universities in order to identify and support emerging technologies.
Whilst addressing the AIIA Luncheon, Bates said that a stable geography and regions such as the Gold Coast which attract a younger workforce, gave Queensland the potential to “one day become Australia’s Silicon Valley.”
To prospective tenderers in the audience, she gave this advice for winning ICT business under a LNP Government:
“I want to encourage Queensland businesses to invest in excellence.
“Make it a ‘no brainer’ when it comes to supplier selection, be it hardware, software, or services to Government. I encourage you to get the basics right, embed professional project management and a culture of excellence in everything you do.
“Don't cut corners when it comes to quality; don't make risks unmanageable when taxpayers’ money is used.
“[We need to be assured that] we will not be betting an LNP Government's reputation by selecting you as a provider,” she said.
ICT also features in the LNP’s feature in its five point policy plan, which focuses around the economy, cost of living pressures, waste in government expenditure, infrastructure, frontline services and accountability.
If it wins government, the LNP has committed to delivering tablet computers to special needs students across the state. Its intention to provide 20 tablets to every State Special School and another 10 to each State and non-State school with a special education program will require it to procure more than 7,200 tablets if elected.
The party has also voiced its support for the GPS tracking of sex offenders, a program which the Labor Government commenced in 2011. Labor allocated $13.7 million to the scheme in the 2011-12 State Budget and invited providers to participate in a trial of different tracking devices which took place in August 2011.
 Based on QLD DET figures counting 43 State special schools, 578 State Schools with special education programs plus 57 independent schools with special education programs according to Independent Schools Queensland. Does not include a figure for Catholic Schools.